A young boy in Iowa saw the devastation a late summer derecho wreaked upon his home state, and soon came up with a real home run of a plan to help.
Tommy Rhomberg, 12, has raised thousands of dollars for his community by making and selling nearly 115 baseball bats out of wood brought down by the August storm, according to his website, The Great Derecho.
The idea for the bats initially began as Tommy’s way of giving a friend a nice gift for his birthday – but when others expressed interest in owning Great Derecho bats of their own, he came up with a new plan.
© Provided by People Tommy Rhomberg makes the bats out of wood that was knocked down during a derecho in August
“I didn’t know people would be so interested,” he said on his website. “But since so many people in our area need help after the storm, let’s work together to make a difference for them.”
The first bat took Tommy 10 hours to whittle and sand out of a tree branch that had fallen in his yard during the derecho, which is a group of intense thunderstorms and windstorms.
“I kind of thought, ‘Oh shoot, Tommy. I think I would like one. Would you make me one?’ And he told me no,” mom Amanda Rhomberg told CBS News. “He still had blisters on his hands.”
But once he began receiving more orders, he streamlined the process with a lathe and help from his grandfather, promising $20 from each purchase would go to The Greater Cedar Rapids Foundation Disaster Relief Fund.
“We got kind of lucky with the derecho. We didn’t have any damage, but just driving around town there were people with half their house destroyed, and I just wanted to raise money so we could help them, help people rebuild,” Tommy told CBS News. “I feel like it’s really helping people.”
According to CBS News, Tommy’s efforts have raised more than $2,500 to help out his community, and Amanda told CBS affiliate KGAN that orders have come in from as far as Arizona and Connecticut.
Tommy is not taking additional orders at the moment, but it’s “possible” he’ll make more bats in the future, according to his website.
The derecho struck the Midwest in mid-August, and killed at least two people. It also left hundreds of thousands of people without power, and destroyed millions of acres of crops.